On Being Bi-Polar

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It is 4 in the morning. I am listening to the rain piss down on the stone tiles outside my room. The balcony door is open a foot and the 27 degree Celsius, muggy tropic air wafts in.

I have been awake since 2 a.m. And, IT is happening again.

IT being the return of hypomania. Hypo is a word prefix meaning under. So, literally under manic or less than manic. Manic being the word for certifiably crazy, wacko, outta control. At least in the eyes of people who are not manic, not bipolar.

By the way, an aside, I just loathe The Bangles song, Manic Monday. It is so, so wrong. The song describes a hectic, frantic, chaotic day. Not like mania at all. Not. Well, maybe a little bit. But just one aspect of the whole magilla.

To be official. I have Bipolar Affective Disorder II. Let’s parse that. Let’s look at the Affective bit. According to Google’s dictionary, affective means relating to moods, feelings, and attitudes. Let’s get more specific, denoting or relating to mental disorders in which a disturbance of mood is the primary symptom. What is mood?

Most of us know what our mood is. But, what’s the official definition of mood? Mood is defined as a temporary state of mind or feeling. Synonyms are state of mind, frame of mind, temper, or humour. The latter two being rather old words.

So, let’s sum up. Bipolar disorder is seemingly about mood. And, in my 34 years of experiencing it that is true. But, as I will tell you later, it is much more than that. So, much more.

Let’s look at the Bipolar piece of the phrase. Bipolar literally means 2 poles. Two opposite poles, like North Pole and South Pole. But in this case the 2 poles are Mania and Depression. Mania is defined as mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity. Some synonyms for mania are madness, insanity, lunacy, delirium, frenzy, wildness. Let’s look at the downward pole. Depression is defined as feelings of despondency and dejection. Some synomyms for depression are melancholy, sorrow, despair, hopelessness.

First a bit of a discursion. When I was first diagnosed with a mood disorder my official diagnosis was Manic Depressive Illness. That name reflected the illness was clearly about both Mania and Depression. That was in 1983. Since then psychiatrists and psychologists have recognized that there are several versions or forms of mood disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic there are no less than 9 mood disorders. But, let’s look at ones pertinent to this discussion. These are Bipolar Affective Disorder I and Bipolar Affective Disorder II.

The chief characteristic that distinguishes Bipolar II from Bipolar I is that the mood swing in the upward direction, towards mania, is less than that of Bipolar I. Hence, hypomania.Individuals experiencing hypomania may experience different degrees of mania and its affiliated symptoms.

Next post, I take an unvarnished look at just what those symptoms are.

Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved


P is for PTSD

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P is for PTSD

The taxi pulled up in front of my daughter’s home. I was waiting on the porch at the side. Shivering in the cold. My breath making clouds of cold steam. I hurried to the taxi, cane in left hand, small travelling bag in right hand. I opened the right front passenger door. I got in the front seat of the car. Closed the door.

“Please take me to the Greyhound stop,” I said.

“You betcha buddy,” the driver said. He started the car rolling down the gentle incline of the cul de sac that housed my daughter’s home. The pavement was covered by an inch of packed snow. Here there bits of ice peaked through. He reached the end of the street. It seemed like he had no intention of stopping. I glanced to the left. Saw a large pickup rocketing down the busy street which with the cul de sac intersected.

I screamed. Like my life was about to end.

Meanwhile, the taxi driver was already braking. It was never his intention to roll through the intersection. Never his intention at all. But my brain did not know that. It just reacted out of fear and terror.

“Sorry about that man,” I said to the driver. “I was in a terrible car crash. I thought you weren’t going to stop. And, that pickup would smash into us.”

“No big deal buddy.”

The driver never asked about my crash. And, I never told him my secret. We chatted about the weather and what was new and not so new in town. Ten minutes later he dropped me in the middle of town. The Greyhound pulled up fifteen minutes later. I was waiting in an alleyway next to a store built out of a cement blocks. I handed the driver my ticket. Climbed carefully up the stairs hanging on to the railing. I sat in the front seat opposite to the driver. Ten minutes later we began to drive out of town. Making our way slowly across a bridge spanning Mountain creek and eventually reaching Moutain Avenue and the exit to the Trans Canada.

The Greyhound reached cruising speed. I leaned back into my seat and thought about the incident with the taxi. “Fuck! I have PTSD from the crash! That’s got to be the reason I screamed. Shit! Shit! What am I going to do now?”

I pondered. And, pondered.

Then I remembered. Lynn! Lynn can help me.

Lynn was my former therapist. She had helped me immensely in working through my childhood sexual abuse. I had many sessions of EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming, to eradicate the trauma, the PTSD, resulting from the abuse. EMDR might work for this PTSD.

I called her up when I got back to Calgary. I scheduled a session for the next week.

Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved